Opera Singer Stephen Gould Dead of Bile Duct Cancer at 61: ‘Always in Our Hearts’

Opera singer Stephen Gould has died following a recent diagnosis of bile duct cancer. He was 61.

The famed tenor — who starred in operas across the globe and over 3000 performances of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s iconic Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera — died on Tuesday night in Virginia, his agent Stephanie Ammann confirms to PEOPLE.

“It was a great honor and pleasure to work with this outstanding artist and extraordinary personality for more than 20 years and to accompany his international career,” his agency said in a statement. “We will deeply miss and never forget him. He will always be in our hearts.”

Gould withdrew from his appearance at Germany’s Bayreuth Festival in July, where he was supposed to perform in three starring roles in GötterdämmerungTannhäuser and Tristan und Isoldeper the Associated Press.

Earlier this month, Gould explained he could not perform due to his diagnosis in a statement on his website.

“For all of my fans and well wishers: I have waited till the end of the Bayreuth festival, so as not to hinder the tremendous and heroic efforts displayed by this year’s 2023 team,” the singer shared at the time.

“I was diagnosed with bile duct cancer with complications,” he continued, calling it “a fatal disease with an outlook of several months to 10 months” and mentioning that “there is no cure.”

He added, “I did not wish anything to cloud this year’s achievements, and I am grateful to Bayreuth, for teaching me all that I could have hoped to know about the performance of this great musicians works.”

The statement concluded, “With many [fond] memories… Stephen Gould.”

Stephen Gould (emperor) performs during the 'Die Frau ohne Schatten' Final Rehearsal at Salzburg Festival on July 24, 2011 in Salzburg, Austria
Stephen Gould in ‘Die Frau ohne Schatten’ in Salzburg, Austria in July 2011.MARTIN SCHALK/GETTY

Bile duct cancer (also known as cholangiocarcinoma) is when malignant cells form in the ducts connecting the liver, gallbladder and small intestine that carry bile, or fluid in the digestive system that helps to break down food, according to the National Cancer Institute,

The Bayreuth Festival — which Gould performed at nearly 100 times over 18 years — reports the singer was born in Virginia and studied with conductor John Moriarty at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

After his training, he joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists and went on to star as Raoul the Broadway run of The Phantom of the Opera for eight years, per Gramophone.

Gould later trained with baritone John Fiorito and began starring in more operatic roles, debuting as Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio in Linz, Germany and going on to star in Die Liebe der Danae and Otello in Dresden, Germany, Tannhäuser in Tokyo, Paris and Geneva, Switzerland, Fidelio in Rome, as well as many other acclaimed productions at opera houses across the globe.

His powerful tenor also took him to concert halls, as he toured with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, among other pieces.

Gould is survived by his sister.

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